The Voice Recap: The Battles End With a Pair of Questionable Picks

There are many things that we love about The Voice, right, from the coaches’ goofy interplay to the contestants’ go-for-broke performances. But is any one of them more fun than second-guessing the panel’s decisions? And I dunno about you, but I did quite a bit of that Tuesday evening as the Battles ended. On two out of four face-offs, I disagreed with the coaches. Read on, and we’ll discuss why.

Team Reba: Ashley Bryant (Grade: B-) defeated Elyscia Jefferson (Grade: C+) on “If I Were a Boy” | Reba’s “opposites-attract” pairing of one country singer and one R&B singer started off sounding like it was headed for train-wreck territory. Ashley used so (!) much (!) vibrato, I half-thought she was shivering. And the key just seemed too low for Elyscia to really shine. Both contestants improved a lot once they got the chance to belt but, again owing to the key, Ashley more than Elyscia, who I suspect is the superior vocalist in general.

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Team Legend: Mafe (Grade: B+) defeated Rivers Grayson (Grade: B) on “You’ve Got a Friend” | On James Taylor’s classic ballad, Rivers was so whispery that you really had to pay attention for him to make an impression. And if you did, he was good, right? But he sang so softly that he couldn’t help but sorta fade into the woodwork next to Mafe, whose voice was so much clearer and brighter. Hard to win a Battle when you’re coming off like your opponent’s backing vocalist.

Team Dan + Shay: Anya True (Grade: B) defeated AJ Harvey (Grade: B+) on “Half of My Heart” | Odd. We went into the rehearsal room with this duo but didn’t get their whole performance; that’s a choice. From what we heard, their John Mayer cover was pretty good. There’s something ear-catching and authentic about Anya’s voice, but I had to give the edge to AJ; anybody who doesn’t just sing a song but looks like he’s living it is almost always gonna be my pick.

Team Chance: RLetto (Grade: B+) defeated Val T. Webb (Grade: A) on “Saving All My Love for You” — Val stolen by John | OK, granted, Val was at a tremendous advantage on this Whitney cover; even she admitted that it was totally in her wheelhouse. But she nonetheless wowed the hell outta me by both doing the number justice and making it her own enough that I wasn’t constantly comparing her vocal to the original. RLetto did very well, too, revealing a rich tone to his voice that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Luther Vandross ballad. He definitely had the more daunting task here, and he rose to the occasion. But Val was clearly the winner. She was superlative.

Were you as surprised as I was by the coaches’ picks of Anya and RLetto Tuesday? Vote for the night’s standout performance below, then hit the comments with your thoughts.

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